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Saint Billinge

Please can/may I borrow your book!

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I believe you are an EFL teacher,

That explains his familiarity with leather elbow patches. :D

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It is though tbf the contracted form of both "I will" and "I shall" is "I'll" so you would still have been right even from the perspective of a grammar pedant.

Mind you said pedant would probably have objected to contractions as well.

My mistake as I should have said "I will see you later".

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Has any of this changed how grammar is taught or the 'rules' of any languages?

Totally.

For me, Michael Lewis' The English Verb was ground-breaking in terms of how we regard our language in EFL teaching.

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Untrue, you could also ask "Could I borrow...?" but it would have nothing to do with the past tense or ability. Most modal verbs have multiple meanings that sometimes have little or nothing to do with each other.

Not untrue. (You accept the point in a later post, by the way) I was referring to the degree of formality. "Could I have a beer, please?" is a more polite (formal) way of asking for a beer than "Can I have a beer, please?" We don't normally use formal English in an informal context, for example when using the spoken language rather than the written one, or talking to a friend rather than a respected elder. The informal language is very relaxed about usage and only a complete idiot (or pedant) would pick up on his friends use of "Can I borrow your book?" rather than "May i borrow your book?"

The only time we need to be careful is when precise expression of an idea is essential, as when framing laws or expressing scientific or medical points. (Longboard's post alludes to this aspect) In these circumstances, we use formal language because we need the precision which it allows. I don't know if it is as a result of this, but it is odd that the subjunctive form (perhaps the most formal of grammatical constructs) only really survives in such situations. Outside of the law, it is pretty much a pointless anachronism which is, rightly, dying out. If it was up to me, we wouldn't use it at all. ;)

Edited to restore a semblance of original intended usage - sweary filter is annoying.

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Totally.

For me, Michael Lewis' The English Verb was ground-breaking in terms of how we regard our language in EFL teaching.

Is that a book normal people would enjoy or is it only for the saddest of anoraks?

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Is that a book normal people would enjoy or is it only for the saddest of anoraks?

It wouldn't be much interest unless you work in the EFL industry.

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Not untrue. (You accept the point in a later post, by the way) I was referring to the degree of formality. "Could I have a beer, please?" is a more polite (formal) way of asking for a beer than "Can I have a beer, please?" We don't normally use formal English in an informal context, for example when using the spoken language rather than the written one, or talking to a friend rather than a respected elder. The informal language is very relaxed about usage and only a complete idiot (or pedant) would pick up on his friends use of "Can I borrow your book?" rather than "May i borrow your book?"

It's not just a question of formality but also what you are asking for. You might not even bother with "can" when requesting something small from a friend and use an imperative instead but if you were asking to borrow his car then you would use "Could" or even more "formal" constructs such as "Do you mind if...?"..

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It's not just a question of formality but also what you are asking for. You might not even bother with "can" when requesting something small from a friend and use an imperative instead but if you were asking to borrow his car then you would use "Could" or even more "formal" constructs such as "Do you mind if...?"..

Exactly so. And that is part of the beauty of the English language. It is capable of expressing the tiniest nuances of meaning. It is also what makes it very difficult for non-native speakers to learn to a truly fluent level.

(I know other languages can express nuance, but, IMO, English does it best :) )

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Is that a book normal people would enjoy or is it only for the saddest of anoraks?

File under anoraks, I'd say.

Although not aimed at general readers, some may find it interesting. It was quite revolutionary at the time in some ways. Lewis would come out with what looks like a controversial statement such as "there is no future tense in English", and then carefully explain how that's obviously true. And then most importantly for teachers, explain how that should affect the way English is taught.

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File under anoraks, I'd say.

Although not aimed at general readers, some may find it interesting. It was quite revolutionary at the time in some ways. Lewis would come out with what looks like a controversial statement such as "there is no future tense in English", and then carefully explain how that's obviously true. And then most importantly for teachers, explain how that should affect the way English is taught.

Can you summarise that in a few lines? I could win some major pub arguments with stuff like that.

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Can you summarise that in a few lines? I could win some major pub arguments with stuff like that.

Human nature and drinking habits being what they are, it's safe to say that nobody ever wins a pub argument unless it degenerates into actual fighting. Otherwise, any "victory" is purely delusional and temporary.

Another quality night down the Irish Club tonight.

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To me, "could" sounds like it would be used in a question with options, whereas "can" is more an inferred "yes" but polite to ask.

Could I have a word?

Can I have a word?

This first leaves the availability of a sarcastic "you could... but I don't want to". Either way, whichever question is asked you're in trouble.

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Can you summarise that in a few lines? I could win some major pub arguments with stuff like that.

The way Lewis goes about it is (briefly):

Is 'will' the future? No. Well, sometimes, but not always. 'Will you help me?' is about a present time request. 'I'll get the phone' is also a present instant decision. So there are various situations when 'will' is not about the future.

Is the future 'will'? Mostly no. 'Im having dinner with my wife this evening' is future time but present continuous tense. 'The match kicks off at 8pm' is future time, but present simple tense. 'Im going to the beach on Saturday' is also future time. So expressing the future involves a few different tenses.

Therefore, teaching students will=future or future =will is plain wrong.

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Please can/may you return my book?

Not till he's finished colouring it in. B)

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Drat! I have loaned it out, or should it be lent it out? :D

You should of arksed.

That winds me up, and "somethink".

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That winds me up, and "somethink".

I think you're confusing it with "somefink"

My former boss' wife was a junior school headmistress. She once got a letter from a parent saying that a child had been absent for the past few days with a sore froat

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My former boss' wife was a junior school headmistress. She once got a letter from a parent saying that a child had been absent for the past few days with a sore froat

I'd blame poor teaching.

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I think you're confusing it with "somefink"

My former boss' wife was a junior school headmistress. She once got a letter from a parent saying that a child had been absent for the past few days with a sore froat

the parent may have been right. see http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Froat

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Please may you return my book?

That one's incorrect I'm afraid.

I can't help myself. ;)

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It can't be incorrect if it can be understood.

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